Stanford, CA

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

A few stereotypes that I've heard about Stanford students are those imposed upon most Ivy Leaguers (note: Stanford is not technically an Ivy League school): namely, that we're all privileged white kids, with a substantial amount of us intent on being at the top of the pack (think: cut throat competition). Here's the run-down: there's almost always a kernel of truth to any stereotype, but luckily for Stanford (and me!), in this case it's only a small kernel. Being an international student myself who grew up in the Middle East, I can attest to the diversity of the Stanford population. The caveat - if you read the "official" calculation of Stanford's population - is that Stanford counts "Americanized" international students as "international" - i.e if grew up in the US with foreign parents you are considered international. I find that definition a bit of a stretch. However, regardless of your views of what constitutes international, there's a fair amount of people who grew up overseas at Stanford. Additionally, Stanford boasts itself on being one of the top colleges for students of color and those of latino/a origin (see this page for more info: http://admission.stanford.edu/student/diversity/index.html) In terms of relative wealth, there are many privileged kids at Stanford, but not that privileged. Case in point: most Stanford students don't have a car (though that's partly out of convenience as well). Students commonly complain about the expense of food in Palo Alto. Additionally, I would say around 20-30% of the student population has a part time job to support themselves. Last, let's talk about competition: My favorite part about Stanford is the lack of competition among students in most undergraduate departments. I say MOST rather than all, since my major is Sociology with a minor in philosophy (i.e I'm familiar with the humanities and social sciences). Based on what my friends in the more technical fields tell me, there isn't that much morale-killing competition in their departments either. I think part of that is West Coast culture, and part of that is purely Stanford culture. My brother went to Harvard and his characterization of their student population has led me to believe that Stanford is more collaborative than competitive compared to other top schools in the nation.

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I would say that the stereotype of the students at this school is the West Coast Preppy Kid. It is very similar to the stereotype that the Ivy schools one the east coast are subject to. Rich families, well-to-do homes, smarts, work all day, work all night, and a guaranteed job at Google or Facebook. I would say that these stereotypes are not all accurate. Before coming here even I was subject to the Stanford Stereotypes. I found out that they are not all true. Stanford kinds know how to throw down. If you didn't know, that basically means that they are pretty legit in whatever they do. If it's grades or parties, community activities, or just doing whatever they do.

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Nerds but energetic

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The Stanford stereotype really varies. The ones I encounter the most are that students are known to be nerdy and wealthy. As a top-tier school, many self-proclaimed nerds do attend Stanford, but there's more to the students than just that. Ask anyone on campus to learn that they have a passion or talent that drives them, not just a high standardized test scores and good grades. In terms of wealth, yes, many of my friends are from well off families. However, Stanford also offers a very generous financial aid packages and accepts applicants on a need-blind basis, which means Stanford doesn't consider your financial status when making application decisions. It's actually cheaper for me to attend Stanford than my own local public university back at home because of the financial aid I received! To me, Stanford is a nerd meets jock meets hippy kind of environment. Our campus is very intellectual, active, and chill. Well, at least on the outside. There's something on campus known as the Stanford Duck Syndrome. Ducks look calm on the surface, but they're paddling furiously to stay afloat. Most stereotypes you hear about Stanford are probably true to some extent, because it's such a diverse campus full of passionate and driven people with many interests.

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religion

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